“Danny’s Own Lions’ Den,” Friend, Jan. 1994, 2
“Because Daniel would not stop praying, he was cast into a den of lions, Daniel was righteous. …”
Danny Miller sat in his Primary class and listened to Sister Jensen tell the story of Daniel and the lions’ den. She finished by telling the children that she knew that the next time they faced a lions’ den, they could be as brave and courageous as Daniel. Danny thought that was funny. He had only seen lions at the zoo. And he had never heard of anyone being put into a lions’ den these days. He left the classroom and promptly forgot all about Daniel in the den of lions.
Then Monday morning at family scripture study, Danny’s dad read about Daniel too. His mother said, “The next time you have to make a hard choice, remember to be just as courageous as Daniel.”
But nobody gets thrown to the lions anymore, Danny thought as he headed to his room to get ready for school. “I don’t understand what all these scriptures have to do with me, anyhow,” he said to his cat, Tuffy, as he passed him on the stairs. “It’s just a lot of ancient history stuff, and I can’t understand it.”
Besides, Danny had more important things to worry about. He wolfed down his breakfast and took off for school. His mother couldn’t understand why he was in such a hurry, but he knew that if he went to school early enough, he might get there before Jason. Jason was a bully. Last week he had sat on Tommy Deacon until Tommy’s face turned blue. Jason had wanted the cupcake from Tommy’s lunch. Poor Tommy was ready to give it to him, but he couldn’t talk. That’s when Danny got into trouble with Jason.
He had picked up what was left of Tommy’s lunch—it looked like a steam-roller had passed over it—and tapped Jason on the shoulder. As Jason swung around, Tommy got away.
“Hey, squirt, what do you want?”
“Here’s Tommy’s cupcake,” Danny mumbled as he handed Jason the flattened lunch.
But instead of taking the lunch, Jason grabbed Danny by the hair. “I hear you’re pretty smart. Tell you what, I’m gonna cut you a break.” Jason told Danny that he had to help him pass all their tests, or else. Danny could imagine pretty well what “else” meant.
For the next week, he gave Jason the answers he wanted. Danny felt awful about it. He knew it was wrong, but he was afraid of Jason.
That morning as class began, Jason, who sat next to Danny, smiled and said, “So, are we ready for the math quiz?”
“What if I won’t give you the answers?” Danny whispered.
“Then I’ll tell the class that you’ve been cheating. Remember, all our tests from last week have the same answers on them.”
Danny was really scared.
Then, for some reason, he began to think of his Primary class. He remembered Sister Jensen’s telling them about Daniel. Danny thought sadly, That’s my name, too, but I’m not at all like Daniel in the Bible.
Suddenly he thought that Jason looked just like the wicked men in the Bible picture book who told Daniel not to pray. He looked at his teacher and his classmates and imagined how shocked they would be if Jason told on him. He felt as if he really were a prisoner in a den, and his classmates and his teacher were the lions.
Then, gently, a voice seemed to speak in his mind: Danny, do the right thing. Don’t let Jason see your paper anymore. It will be all right.
Danny remembered how the Lord had shut the lions’ mouths when Daniel was lowered into the den. No harm had come to him when he had done the right thing. Danny looked again at his teacher. One thing she absolutely did not tolerate was cheating. He looked at his classmates. He again imagined the boys’ laughter and the girls’ scorn if they found out. Suddenly the scriptures seemed very real. Here he was, Danny Miller, facing his own lions’ den. He remembered Sister Jensen saying: “Children, I hope that the next time you face a den of lions, you will, with Heavenly Father’s help, be just as brave as Daniel was.”
Mrs. Grant began giving the quiz. “Problem number one …”
Danny said a little prayer in his heart, then placed his hand over his page as he began to write. He glanced at Jason, who was scowling at him. Under his breath, Jason hissed, “Show me the answer, or I’ll tell!”
“Problem number two …”
Danny kept his paper covered. Jason raised his hand. Danny’s heart was pounding as Jason told Mrs. Grant in front of the entire class that Danny was a cheat and that he could prove it.
Mrs. Grant, in her sternest voice, said, “Jason and Daniel, I will see you after the quiz in my office.”
Danny peeked at the other lions in his den. The boys were not laughing; the girls did not look scornful. They finished the quiz, then Jason and Danny went to Mrs. Grant’s office.
Miraculously as Mrs. Grant began to speak, her voice softened, “Daniel, what is your side of the story?”
Danny told her everything and finished with, “I’m sorry.” Then he just looked at his feet. To his amazement she said how proud she was of him for having the courage to do the right thing. Danny had never felt so good in his whole life, even though he realized that Jason would probably get back at him somehow. But Jason could never make Danny do something wrong again.
On the way home from school, Danny thought about Daniel. At that moment he seemed very real to Danny, almost like a best friend!